Considering a cruise holiday this year? Before you book have a look at your travel insurance policy to ensure you're covered out at sea. 

Only 35% of single policies and 40% of multi-trip policies cover cruises, according to new figures by financial information providers Defaqto. Even then, adding cruise cover preimums might cost a whopping sum.  

If you find you aren't covered, then specialist cruise insurance might be right for you. Here's a rundown of what it is, what it actually covers, plus any pitfalls and exclusions you need to keep a keen eye out for.

What is cruise insurance?

As cruises often involve extra activities like jungle trekking and kayaking, trips like these are seen as pretty high risk so are often excluded from standard travel insurance policies.

Cruise insurance is a little more specific in that it covers you for things that can happen while on this type of holiday.

Think inconveniences like missed port departures, trip interruptions and health assistance wherever you happen to be in the world.

You’ll also be covered for: 

  • trip cancellation and curtailment;
  • accommodation and excursions for emergency cancellations; 
  • personal belongings, money and baggage if they're stolen, accidentally lost or damaged on your trip.

The insurance itself tends to cost more because of the countries you visit as well as repatriation costs. Policies vary wildly in terms of what's covered, so be sure to look closely at what you’re getting before you sign anything.

For example, some insurers will waive your excess if medical treatment is undertaken at sea, but not so if your condition is more severe and you require treatment on-shore.

Choosing the right cover

This depends entirely on your personal circumstances, medical record, where you’re travelling to and what activities you plan to do (such as scub diving, etc).

Cruise insurance: what it covers, exclusions, medical conditions and more

If it’s your first cruise or you only go away on cruises occasionally, you’ll only really need a single trip policy. If you’re away on cruises twice a year or more, a multi-trip policy could offer better value.   

Need travel inspiration? Head to BT.com's Travel channel

I’ve got a pre-existing medical condition, will I be covered?

A lot of cruise insurance policies cover older people (for example, JustTravelcover.com doesn't have an upper age limit) and, as people in this age range are more likely to have pre-existing medical conditions, it’s easier to find cover if you’ve got an ongoing medical complaint.

Insurers can give you optional cover for over 2,000 medical conditions. But, depending on the conditions, you could be charged a heavy premium.

How much will I be covered for, and over how many days?

Most insurers can cover your maximum medical cover for £10,000,000.

You’ll find the standard maximum cancellation cost cover is £10,000. The best you could do for days covered in a single trip is 730 days from STA Travel (which is aimed at young people and students), but the standard is either 100 days or one year.

Multi-trip policies generally last between 90 days and 120 days.